Charles Lyell’s Notebooks and Videos

Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875) was a geologist whose work helped to found the modern notion of geology and geologic time whilst establishing geology as a separate science. In his first book, Principles of Geology, (1830) he propounded his theory of uniformitarianism, that the Earth’s history can be explained by gradual change over time. He also proposed the idea that different periods of geologic time could be established by reference fossils, he divided geologic time into four periods; Pleistoscene, Older Pliocene, Miocene and Eocene. He also expounded notions on the rock cycle, how one type of rock was transformed into another, volcanic forces, deposition and erosion.

Now that the free exhibition ‘Time Traveller: Charles Lyell at Work’ is open at the Main Library, the University of Edinburgh, we would like to introduce relevant Creative Commons-licensed materials available online.

To learn more about Lyell and the University of Edinburgh’s project on his materials, visit Through Lyell’s Eyes.

The Travels Of His Own Mind


Charles Withers Emeritus Professor of Geography University of Edinburgh discussing the importance of Lyell’s Note Books and how they relate to current issues of deep time and climate change.

Two Hundred and Ninety Four Note Books One Thousand One Hundred Donors


Charles Withers, Professor Emeritus University of Edinburgh and Geographer Royal for Scotland reading from a letter to Darwin by Lyell discussing the domestication of the dog.

Charles Lyell’s Notebooks

The images are licensed under CC BY and available on the University of Edinburgh Image Collections.


Header: Sir Charles Lyell, Notebook No.192, Lyell, Sir Charles – page p.110, 1854, the University of Edinburgh.